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How I use herbs - Nasturtium

I was surprised to find out that there is actually a genus Nasturtium which includes cress, but not the plant I know as nasturtium!  Apparently the common name nasturtium for the plant Tropaeolum Majus is due to the herb tasting like plants in the Nasturtium genus.  Another example of why its so important to check botanical names.

How to grow nasturtium
Nasturtium can be grown from seed, cuttings or root division, although I've only ever used seeds.  It does tend to spread under the right conditions, so make sure you plant it in the right spot.  I find it doesn't like our hot dry summers, so it never takes over my garden.  However, if I can get it to survive through summer, it is a perennial in my sub-tropical climate.  It is usually considered an annual in colder climates as it doesn't tolerate frost well.


How I use Nasturtium
  • All flowers are good for attracting bees and other beneficial insects, so this is a good reason to have nasturtium in your garden, as it tends to flower prolifically in the right conditions.
  • Nasturtium is also used as a companion plant as the leaves attract insects, particularly the cabbage white moth. The flowers also repel aphids and the cucumber beetle.
  • It makes a good edible ground cover plant in the orchard for weed control.
  • The flowers, seeds and leaves can be eaten.  I usually pick a few leaves and add to dinner with other chopped herbs.  The leaves have a peppery flavour which I like.  I know that you can also pickle the green seeds, but I can never produce enough of them!
  • Medicinally, nasturtium is said to have antibiotic properties.  It can be made into an infusion or tincture for respiratory conditions, digestion and as a poultice for skin conditions.  
  • Chooks and cattle also enjoy any nasturtium that grows outside the garden fence.




Comments

  1. I went to a talk on organic chook rearing where the lady said the seeds were a great chook wormer. Don't know whether this is true or not, but they seem to like the leaves better than the seeds anyway.

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    Replies
    1. Anything that feeds the chooks is a good plant to have around I reckon! No idea if it works to worm them, but I have read that too. I wouldn't know if our chooks had worms anyway!

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  2. Our chickens do not seem that fussed on them but the cow loves them. The smell of them always reminds me of NZ as they grow so well over there I remember them at the beach and along river banks. I am not super keen on them but I still grow them for the insects and I love the look of them.

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    Replies
    1. Well they do have so many uses, even you don't want to eat them, something else will :)

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  3. I love nasturtiums but so do our chooks. I did have some when we first moved here, but they were devoured and dug up by the girls and they have never grown back...

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    Replies
    1. Mine did the same to a plant that they had access too, so I guess that's another tip, if you have marauding chooks or cows, keep the nasturtiums away from them!

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  4. Watching one of my favorite gardening programs last night and up popped some info on Nasturtiums. Apparently the poorer the soil the more flowers produced. Checked mine out this morning and sure enough the ones growing in the poorest part of the garden had the most flowers on them.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting! I really want to collect seeds to make capers, so maybe I need to plant them on poorer soil to do that. I never have many flowers!

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  5. Gorgeous plants, tough as nails and un-demanding. Here in the north of Moreton Bay, they are a cool-weather crop. Now they are setting seed and in a month probably almost all the plants will be dead.
    The plants make great mulch, drying out to be in-situ compost. They self-seed and have wandered from the front to the back all by themselves over 7 years.
    We love them to look at, as trap plants, and just as themselves. Bright, cheerful and enthusiastic. We're not fond of the flavour but we are keen on their looks.

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    Replies
    1. They are very hardy! And its great to see them spreading out.

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  6. I love nasturtiums even if just for their beauty. I tried them my first summer here but they didn't seem to like our heat. Maybe I should give them another try next summer.

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    Replies
    1. Try them in the cooler months if you can Leigh, mine grows through summer but it struggles, they prefer shade and moist soil.

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  7. We enjoy a variation of potato soup. There's a recipe at http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/1909365-Nasturtium-Potato-Soup.

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    Replies
    1. oh that sounds delicious (the link doesn't work, but I can imagine)

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